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APNewsBreak: Ohio rebukes agency's intern use

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 6, 2012 at 1:03 pm •  Published: December 6, 2012

CINCINNATI (AP) — Ohio investigators found improper use of college interns, among other violations of procedures, by a private adoption agency that helped place children with an adoptive father accused of raping three boys in his care.

State files obtained by The Associated Press through public records requests show that the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services investigated the private agency in the aftermath of the February arrests of the 40-year-old Troy man. The state findings listed 12 problems; in most cases they involved incomplete records and lack of documentation. They also found that college interns improperly conducted some home assessments and post-placement visits alone.

Dayton-based ACTION Inc. submitted a detailed corrective action plan in response that included ending its college internship program. The Ohio department accepted the plan and has continued its state license.

The private agency's executive director, Patricia Hill, said no wrongdoing was found in its handling of the Troy adoptions. She referred questions to the agency's attorney, who didn't immediately return a telephone message Thursday. Her agency's website says she is a licensed social worker with a master's degree in social work, and is the mother of 22 children through adoption and one through long-term foster care. Hill earned her master's in social work from University of Cincinnati in 1997.

The Troy man last month pleaded guilty to six counts of child rape in Miami County in a plea agreement. The Associated Press isn't identifying the adoptive father to protect the children's identities.

A Dec. 20 hearing is scheduled in Montgomery County on plea negotiations on seven rape-related counts he faces there. Two other men are charged in separate cases with raping one of the boys the man had adopted.

The state investigation was a review of all agency operations, not just the Troy case, department spokesman Benjamin Johnson said. The state found that college interns conducted some home study assessments by themselves, as well as some post-placement visits. The assessment visits are used to study the home environment and check for any signs of potential risks, from emotional to physical health, as part of far-ranging background checks and safety audits in placing children. Post-placement visits usually done monthly check, in face-to-face conversations, how the children and their caretakers are adjusting and that children's needs are being met.

The state review doesn't say whether the intern visits cited were at the Troy man's home.

However, the man told The Associated Press during an interview at the Miami County Jail this week that a college student had come to his home once for a regular visit with an ACTION caseworker, then returned alone for other visits. He said she appeared to follow the same visit procedures as regular caseworkers did, such as separating the children from him for interviews about how they were doing in their new home.

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